In a tense political climate, Venezuela finds itself at a crossroads, with the opposition levelling accusations of ‘intimidation’ against the government – and the government accusing the opposition of 'planning assassinations'.
The allegations come amidst the backdrop of delicate negotiations, economic challenges, and a recent reform in communal laws, and yesterday’s ruling upholding the ban on the opposition leader leaves 2024’s elections in jeopardy.
During this political turmoil, (banned) Venezuelan opposition leader María Corina Machado has cited government intimidation, pointing to the abduction of campaign coordinators and vandalism of party offices. According to
Machado, these actions violate the Barbados Agreement, jeopardizing the prospects of free and fair elections in 2024.
What the Comptroller's Office says about María Corina
The text, signed by the general director of Special Procedures Antonio José Meneses Rodríguez, accuses Machado of acts that "attack public ethics, administrative morality, the rule of law, peace and the sovereignty of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela".
There are funds to be clarified from her assets in national and international financial entities, but they also say that she is supposedly involved in “the corruption plot orchestrated by the usurped Juan Gerardo Guaidó Márquez.”
The “delivery” of Citgo to the Canadian mining company Crystallex is mentioned, that of Monómeros in Colombia and the blocking of 10 million dollars for the purchase of vaccines against COVID-19 through the Covax mechanism. Machado is also accused of theft of humanitarian aid resources that in 2019 attempted to enter through Cúcuta and of supporting US sanctions against Venezuela.
Venezuela's Supreme Court upheld a 2023 ban yesterday that prevents Machado from running for president.
Machado was already banned from holding public office for 15 years, and on Friday the court said she would remain disqualified "for being involved... in the corruption plot orchestrated by the usurper Juan Guaido"
Guaido had claimed to be the legitimate interim president of Venezuela in 2019 and was recognized by some foreign governments, particularly the US, as such, but he was forced into exile in 2023.
Banned opposition leader Maria Corina Machado - pictured being welcomed to the White House by George W Bush - was said to be ‘linked’ to Guaido.
President Nicolás Maduro, in response, has expressed concern over a potential collapse of the Barbados Agreement. He attributes this risk to alleged conspiracies aimed at undermining his position, accusing the US-backed opposition and the CIA of planning terrorist attacks to destabilise the country ahead of the upcoming presidential election.
Maduro, who has pooh-poohed allegations of intimidation on the part of the ruling party, also claims that US-backed opposition leaders are trying to kill him, accusing them of plotting his assassination before the elections.
The US, a key player in the Barbados Agreement, has condemned arrests made by Venezuela's Attorney-General, issuing a warning of consequences if actions run counter to the spirit of the deal. Simultaneously, the opposition has called for for international intervention, citing ‘a wave of aggression and disappearances’.
In the economic context, the US had temporarily eased sanctions under the Barbados Agreement. However, the intricate dance between sanctions and negotiations raises questions about the nation's economic stability as both sides manoeuvre for leverage.
Amidst political accusations and economic struggles, Venezuela's National Assembly last year approved a significant reform to the 'Organic Law of Communal Councils.' This move is celebrated by socialist forces as a victory for popular power. It counters accusations of authoritarianism by highlighting the commitment to participatory democracy and collectivised production.
As Venezuela grapples with political accusations, economic challenges, and communal reforms, the international community watches closely. The delicate balance between opposition claims and government responses shapes the narrative, leaving the nation in a state of uncertainty as it approaches the crucial presidential elections in 2024.